Coyote Trail

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Chapter 14: A Trail Divided

Matt Ransom sat astride his dusty roan and looked down at the body of the bloated dead man on the desert floor. Though the scavengers had been at work on the remains, he hoped that Pinder could make an identification.

“I’m pretty sure it’s David Spencer.” confirmed Pinder. “I’d say he took one through the heart.”

Ransom removed his hat and wiped the sweat from his forehead. “That would confirm that we’re back on the trail gentlemen.”

“Blackwolf knows his stuff.” Pinder replied.

Ransom and Blackwolf had trailed the Spencers west, through the town of Cabezon and on across the Rio Puerco, to the town of White Horse. There, the trail went cold. Blackwolf had figured that they changed horses, split up and rode in different directions to meet up later in some predetermined location. The old scout believed that they would more than likely circle around and double back.

Ransom had learned to trust the man’s instincts and so they turned around and headed back. Along the way, they met up with Pinder and Morgan.

Returning his hat to his head, Ransom looked down again at the corpse on the ground. Sure enough, the old scout had been right.

Dan Blackwolf walked slowly about as he examined the area. He took his time, eyes alert for even the tiniest details that would help him reconstruct in his mind, what had happened there. A bullet hole in a clump of cactus, a spent cartridge here, drops of dried blood there, it all added up to his experienced eye.

Finally, his examination concluded, he turned and walked over to where the others sat their horses waiting patiently.

“Four mounted men rode up on three who were camped here.” he said. “When the shootin’ was over, one man was dead, two were wounded. One of the Coyotes and one of the riders lost blood.”

The old Indian pointed to the south.

“The Spencers took off that way.”

Morgan wiped the sweat from his face on the sleeve of his shirt.

“You want to split up again Matthew?”

Ransom looked at Morgan and then gave a questioning look at the Indian.

“Two of the Coyotes headed west, towards the Navajo country.” Blackwolf said. “One goes north.”

“I’d say the two half-breeds are headin’ to the Navajo where they can get medicine an’ hide out.” Pinder said. “The other one’s makin’ for the Master’s ranch.”

The three men looked to their leader for a decision.

One of the Spencers had been wounded. Of course, there was no telling how badly but more than likely, enough to slow them down. One of the Coyotes had taken a hit as well. That meant that possibly two of them were wounded, Pinder having winged one in Coyote Canyon.

Ransom considered. The more important thing to him was getting the Spencers. They were worth a lot more and hell, he already had one!

“Morgan, I want you to ride back to Red Holler.” he said. “Keep your eyes and ears open. Watch that widow woman’s ranch. There’s a good chance the Coyotes will show up there at some point. Don’t do anything until we ride back into town and meet up with you at the hotel!”

“You got it Matthew.”

Ransom turned to Pinder and Blackwolf.

“The rest of us are goin’ to continue on after the Spencers.” he said. “We’ll take care of them first! When we’ve got a few thousand dollars secured, we’ll come back this way for the Coyotes.”

He looked again at the dead man on the desert floor. Two empty eye sockets stared up at the noonday sun.

“It sure was awful nice of them half-breeds to kill a Spencer for us.” He said. “Let’s wrap this one up. We’ll turn what’s left of him in to the Sheriff in Sorocco.”

Blackwolf proceeded to wrap the body in a blanket and bind it up tightly. That done, he and Pinder slung it over the back of the supply horse and secured it.

“This is part of the job I hate.” said the Indian.

It was nearly sundown when Ted Morgan rode into Red Holler and pulled up in front of the livery stable. Joe Dent, still with a wicked bump on his head, stepped out and greeted him as he dismounted.

“Put him up for the night an’ feed ’im.” He said as he handed the reigns over to Dent, who eyed him keenly.

“You’re one of Ransom’s men aren’t ya?”

”That’s right.” Morgan replied.

“Any news about them low-down varmints you boys are after?” Dent asked excitedly. “Did you get any of ’em yet?”

“They split up, but we’ll get ’em.” the bounty hunter replied.

“You reckon they’ll come back around these parts?”

“They might.” He answered. “If they do, look me up. I’ll be around.”

Morgan turned and crossed the street to the hotel. He got himself a room and a bath and then later, he got himself a meal over at the Stagecoach Saloon. Afterwards, feeling full and contented, he returned to his room and went to bed.

Early the next morning, he emerged from the hotel and went into the saloon where he had some eggs and coffee. His hunger appeased, he collected his mount from the livery and headed out of town on his way back to the Masters place.

As he rode along, he thought about Ransom, Pinder and Blackwolf and he considered himself lucky. As where they were chasing after the Spencers, riding all day in the saddle and sleeping on the hard, desert floor at night, he on the other hand, had enjoyed a bath, a meal and a soft bed! His was the easy job, simply to spy on the Masters ranch, keep a lookout for the Coyote brothers and relax!

He drew up his mount, took out the makings and went about rolling a smoke. When he had finished, he lit it up and then continued sauntering on his way.

It was going to be a lazy day for Ted Morgan.

By mid-afternoon, he was situated among the grouping of rocks atop the little knoll that overlooked the ranch house. From there he had a good view of the front of the adobe and the backside of the stable. Off to the right, he could see the bunkhouse. It was the perfect spot to hide out and watch the goings-on as well as a spot from which he could come and go without being seen.

He sat down on the sandy ground with his back against a boulder. He took a long drink from his canteen and then rolled himself another smoke.

Yes sir, he really got lucky this time.

There was no telling how long it would be until Ransom showed back up. Until then, he’d spend a couple of days up here in the rocks keeping an eye on the place and then head back to town and spend a couple of days keeping his eyes and ears open there. Of course, while in town he’d take the opportunity to indulge in the luxuries offered by the hotel and the saloon. It was only natural.

He sat there and smiled.

It sure had been a stroke of luck when Ransom chose him to send back. This was right where he wanted to be. And not only because of the luxuries to be enjoyed in town . . . there was another reason.

Ted Morgan wanted first crack at the Coyote Bandits.

His thoughts returned to Coyote Canyon and he cursed Pinder for giving up the chase and insisting on rejoining Ransom. The thing was; that neither Pinder nor Ransom knew he had a special interest in the Coyotes.

He hadn’t ever told them.

Back in Santa Fe, when Ransom first mentioned the Coyotes, Red’s ears had perked up instantly. There it was, he thought, the perfect opportunity to gun down those two murdering half-breeds the same way they gunned down his friend, Sam Pickens.

Sam had been an old trail buddy of his from a long way back. The two had head-hunted together on several occasions. One night in a little cantina outside of Tucson, Sam got drunk and cheated a man at poker.

That man was Edgar Big Thunder!

The half-breed called him on it and Pickens went for his gun. Edgar drew first and Sam Pickens took the bullet through his heart! Morgan had been upstairs with a whore and didn’t know about it until after the gunfire. By the time he made it downstairs, Pickens was dead and the Coyotes were gone! He made a vow then and there to his dead buddy.

Someday, he’d get those two bastards and make them pay!

Morgan leaned back against the rock, got comfortable and took another drink from his canteen.

“That day might just about be at hand.” he mumbled.

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